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Massasoit's  Town 

Sowams  in   Pokanoket 


ITS  HISTORY  LEGENDS 
AND  TRADITIONS 


By  VIRGINIA  BAKER 

Author  of 
The  History  of  Warren,  R.   I.  in  the  War  of  the  Revolution 


PUBLISHED  BY  THE  AUTHOR 

Warren,  R.  I. 

1904 


Two  C» 

MAR   g  1904 

■"\     Copyrigr* 

x.  1  a   J    v 

Class    «- 
"i  k-  S   g  tf" 

'     COPY  9 

1 — — i 

"  Warren!  where  first  beside  the  cradled  nation, 
The  old  chief  stood,  we  love  thy  storied  past, 

'  Sowams  is  pleasant  for  a  habitation  ' — 

'Twas  thy  first  history — may  it  be  thy  last." 

— Hezekiah  Butter  worth. 


Copyright  1904  by  Virginia  Baker 


Massasoit's   Town 
Sowams   in   Pokanoket 


A  PECULIAR  interest  centres  about  everything  per- 
taining to  the  great  Wampanoag  sachem  Massasoit. 
Massasoit  has  always,  and  justly,  been  regarded  as 
one  of  the  most  remarkable  of  that  group  of 
illustrious  aboriginal  chieftains  with  whom  the  early  white 
settlers  of  New  England  were  associated.  But  while  the 
student  of  history  is  familiar  with  the  story  of  the  Indian 
king's  life-long  allegiance  to  our  forefathers,  while  he 
admires  in  the  untutored  savage  virtues  few  Christian 
monarchs  have  possessed,  he  knows  comparatively  little  of 
the  environments  that  helped  to  mould  a  character  of  so 
unique  a  stamp.  The  ancient  chroniclers  often  allude  to 
Massasoit's  place  of  residence,  and  the  questions  that  naturally 
present  themselves  are:  Where  was  this  place?  Why  did 
Massasoit  select  it  for  his  abode?  What  is  its  history?  To 
answer  these  questions,  in  part  at  least,  is  the  object  of  this 
sketch. 

At  the  period  when  the  Mayflower  came  to  anchor  in 
Plymouth  harbor,  Massasoit  exercised  dominion  over  nearly 
all  the  south-eastern  part  of  Massachusetts  from  Cape  Cod 
to  Narragansett  Bay.  The  south-western  section  of  his  king- 
dom was  known  as  Pokanoket,  Sowams,  or  Sowamsett.  It 
included  what  now  comprises  the  towns  of  Bristol,  Warren, 
Barrington,  and  East  Providence  in  Rhode  Island,  with 
portions  of  Seekonk,  Swansea,  and  Rehoboth  in  Massachu- 
setts. Though  its  area  was  only  about  500  square  miles 
Pokanoket,  owing  to  its  many  natural  advantages,  was  more 


M  a  s  s  a  s  o  i  t '  s    Town 


densely  populated  than  any  other  part  of  the  Wampanoag 
country.  Its  principal  settlement  was  the  village  of  Sowams, 
where  Massasoit  maintained  his  headquarters,  and  where, 
without  doubt,  the  greater  portion  of  his  life  was  passed. 

For  many  years  the  exact  location  of  this  village  was  a 
disputed  point,  authorities  variously  fixing  it  at  Bristol, 
Barrington,  and  Warren.  The  late  Gen.  Guy  M.  Fessenden 
was  the  first  to  demonstrate,  conclusively,  tha^  Sowams 
occupied  the  site  of  the  last  mentioned  place.  The  results 
of  his  careful  and  painstaking  investigation  of  the  claims  of 
the  three  towns  may  be  found  in  the  short  but  valuable  his- 
torical sketch  of  Warren  published  by  General  Fessenden 
in  1845* 

One  familiar  with  the  Pokanoket  region  readily  perceives 
why  Massasoit  placed  his  capital  where  he  did.  Warren  is 
situated  midway  between  Barrington  and  Bristol,  on  an 
arm  of  Narragansett  Bay,  and  is  bounded  on  the  north  and 
east  by  the  State  of  Massachusetts.  A  glance  ac  the  map 
of  Rhode  Island  will  show  the  reader  that,  at  Warren,  which 
is  farther  inland  than  either  of  its  sister  towns,  the  Wampa- 
noags  were,  in  a  great  measure,  protected  from  the  danger 
of  sudden  attack  by  their  enemies,  the  Narragansetts  who 
dwelt  upon  the  opposite  shore  of  the  bay,f  and  that,  in  case 
of  hostile  invasion,  they  were  easily  able  to  retire  to  less 
exposed  portions  of  their  domains. 

The  Indians  were  always  particular  to  locate  their  per- 
manent villages  in  the  vicinity  of  springs  of  running  water. 
Warren  abounds  in  such  springs.  Its  soil  is  generally  fertile 
and  its  climate  agreeable  and  healthy,  as,  owing  to  its  some- 
what inland  position,  it  escapes  the  full  rigor  of  the  fierce 


*See  also,  "Sowams,  the  Home  of  Massasoit:  Where  Was  It?"  by 
Virginia  Baker,  N.  E.  Hist,  and  Gen.  Register,  July,  1899. 

t  The  Narragansetts  occupied  what  is  now  Washington  County,  Rhode 
Island 


Sow  a"m  s    in    Pokanoket  5 

winds,  that,  during  the  winter  months,  sweep  the  unsheltered 
shores  of  Bristol.  In  the  days  when  the  Wampanoags  in- 
habited its  territory,  it  was  well  timbered,  and  grapes,  cherries, 
huckleberries,  and  other  wild  fruits  grew  abundantly  in 
field  and  swamp.  Its  rivers  teemed  with  fish  of  many  vari- 
eties, and  also  yielded  a  plentiful  supply  of  lobsters,  crabs, 
oysters,  clams,  quahaugs,  and  mussels.  Flocks  of  wild 
fowl  haunted  its  marshes;  deer  and  smaller  game  frequented 
its  woods.  Even  in  those  seasons  when  food  became  gen- 
erally scarce,  the  dwellers  at  Sowams  probably  suffered  little 
from  hunger  in  comparison  with  the  inhabitants  of  many 
sections  of  New  England  less  favored  by  nature. 

At  Sowams,  too,  every  facility  for  the  manufacture  of 
the  shell  beads  used  as  currency  by  the  aborigines  was  to  be 
found.  Any  one  who  chose  might  become  a  natouwompitea, 
or  coiner,  and  literally,  "make  as  much  money,"  as  he 
wished.  From  the  rocks  at  hand  the  savage  artificer  shaped 
the  rude  implements  which  his  craft  demanded.  The  waters 
gave  him  freely  the  periwinkle  and  the  quahaug.  From 
the  former  he  cut  the  wampum  *  or  white  beads.  Of  the 
"eye,"  or  dark  portion  of  the  latter,  he  fashioned  the  more 
aluable  black  beads  called  suckauhock.  These  beads  were 
made  into  necklaces,  scarfs,  belts,  girdles,  bracelets,  caps 
and  other  articles  of  dress  and  ornament  "curiously  strung," 
says  Roger  Williams,  "into  many  forms  and  figures,  their 
black  and  white  finely  mixed  together."  Not  infrequently 
a  savage  arrayed  in  gala  attire  carried  upon  this  person  his 
entire  stock  of  ready  money.  Governor  Bradford  states 
that  the  Narragansetts  and  Pequots  grew  "rich  and  potent" 
by  the  manufacture  of  wampum  and,  presumably,  wealth 
contributed  in  no  small  degree  towards  establishing  the 
pre&tige  of  the  Wampanoags. 

*  This  name,  although  originally  applied  only  to  the  white  beads,  came, 
in  time,  to  signify  both  white  and  black. 


Massasoit's    Town 


This  tribe,  properly  speaking,  was  a  confederation  of  clans 
each  clan  having  its  own  headman  who  was,  however,  sub- 
servient to  a  chief  sachem.     The  Wampanoags,  or  Pokanokets 
as  they  were  also  called,  were  originally  a  populous  and 
powerful  people  and  it  is  said  that,  at  one  period,  their  chief 
was  able  to  rally  around  him  no  less  than  3,000  warriors. 
The  father  of  Massasoit,  according  to  the  testimony  of  his 
illustrious  son,*  waged  war  successfully  against  the  Narra- 
gansetts ;  and  Annawon,  King  Philip's  great  captain,  boasted 
to  his  captor,  Church,  of  the  "mighty  success  he  had  formerly 
in  wars  against  many  nations  of  Indians,  when  he  served 
Asuhmequin,    Philip's   father."     About   three   years   before 
the  settlement  of  Plymouth,  however,  a  terrible  plague  de- 
vastated the  country  of  the  Wampanoags  and  greatly  dimin- 
ished their  numbers.     Governor  Bradford,  alluding  to  this 
pestilence,  states  that  "thousands  of  them  dyed,  they  not 
being  able  to  burie  one  another,"  and  that  "their  sculs  and 
bones  were  found  in  many  places  lying  still  above  ground, 
where   their  houses   and  dwellings   had   been;  a  very   sad 
specktacle     to    behould."     The    Narragansetts    who    were 
so   fortunate   as   to   escape  the  plague,  took  advantage  of 
the  weakness  of  their  ancient  foes,  wrested  from  them  one 
of  the  fairest  portions  of  their  domain  the  island  of  Aquid- 
neck,   (Rhode  Island)  and  compelled  Massasoit  to  subject 
"himself  and  his  lands,"  to  their  great  sachem  Canonicus. 
In  1620,  the  Pokanoket  chieftain  could  summon  to  his  aid 
only  about  300  fighting  men,  sixty  of  whom  were  his  imme- 
diate followers.      Yet  Massasoit,  despite  his  weakness,  con- 
trived to  maintain  his  supremacy  over  the  petty  sachems 
of  the  various  clans  of  the  Wampanoag  confederacy.     The 
sagamores  of  the  Islands  of  Nantucket  and  Nope  or  Capa- 
wack  (Martha's  Vineyard),  of  Pocasset,    (Tiverton),  Saconet 


*  See  Deposition  of  Roger  Williams. 


S o w a  m  s    in    Pokanoket  7 

(Little  Compton),  Namasket  (Middleborough),  Nobsquasset 
(Yarmouth),  Monamoit  (Chatham),  Nauset  (Eastham), 
Patuxet  (Plymouth),  and  other  places,  together  with  the 
headmen  of  some  of  the  Nipmuc  nation,  were  tributary  to 
him.  Undoubtedly  some  of  these  chiefs  were  allied  to  Massa- 
soit  by  ties  of  consanguinity  or  mutual  interests;  others, 
probably,  rendered  homage  as  conquered  to  conqueror. 

Like  the  Narragansetts,  the  Wampanoags  were  consider- 
ably advanced  in  civilization.  They  built  permanent  villages , 
and  cultivated  corn,  beans,  pumpkins,  and  squashes.  They 
manufactured  cooking  utensils  of  stone  and  clay,*  and  rude 
implements  for  domestic  and  war-like  purposes  from  shells, 
stone,  and  bone.  They  prepared  the  greater  part  of  their 
food  by  the  aid  of  fire  and  their  cookery  was,  by  no  means, 
unpalatable.  The  famed  Rhode  Island  Johnny  cake  and 
still  more  famous  Rhode  Island  clam  bake  each  claim  an 
Indian  origin.  They  understood  how  to  dress  birch  and 
chestnut  bark  which  they  used  for  covering  their  wigwams, 
and  they  constructed  canoes  by  hollowing  out  the  trunks  of 
large  trees.  Of  rushes  and  grasses  they  wove  mats  and 
baskets,  and  the}'  fashioned  moccasins,  leggings,  and  other 
articles  of  apparel  from  the  skins  of  wild  beasts.  They  were 
very  accurate  in  their  observations  of  the  weather,  and  spent 
much  time  in  studying  the  heavens,  being  familiar  with  the 
motions  of  the  stars,  and  having  names  for  many  of  the 
constellations.  In  common  with  the  other  native  tribes  of 
North  America,  they  worshipped  various  gods,  peopling 
earth,  air,  sky,  and  sea  with  deities;  yet  they  acknowledged 
one  supreme  being,  and  believed  in  the  immortality  of  the 
soul. 

It  is  obvious  that  Massasoit  possessed  mental  endowments 
of  no  mean  order,  and  it  is  equally  obvious  that  his  environ- 

*  Undoubtedly  much  of  the  clay  used  in  Pokanoket  was  procured  at 
Barrington  and  North  Swansea. 


8  Massasoit's    Town 


ments  were  precisely  those  best  calculated  to  develop  a 
character  naturally  strong.  He  dwelt  in  a  land  which,  if 
not  literally  flowing  with  milk  and  honey,  abounded  with 
everything  needful  to  supply  the  simple  wants  of  savage  life, 
and  thus  he  escaped  those  demoralizing  influences  which 
attend  the  struggle  for  mere  existence.  The  proximity  of 
a  powerful  enemy  rendered  him,  cautious,  alert,  and  vigilant. 
His  position  as  the  chief  of  a  considerable  confederacy  in- 
vested him  with  dignity,  and  called  into  activity  all  those 
statesman-like  qualities  for  which  he  was  so  justly  famed. 
Winslow  describes  him  as  "grave  of  countenance,  spare  of 
speech,"  and  this  description  tallies  exactly  with  our  ideal 
of  the  man.  General  Fessenden  remarks:  "This  chief  has 
never  had  full  justice  done  to  his  character."  Certainly  it 
was  no  ordinary  man  who,  conquered  himself,  still  retained 
the  respect  and  allegiance  of  several  clans,  differing  in  thought, 
mode  of  life,  and  interests.  It  was  no  ordinary  man  who,  un- 
daunted by  misfortune,  endured  the  yoke  patiently  till  the 
opportunity  to  throw  it  off  presented  itself,  and  then  quietly 
taking  advantage  of  the  auspicious  moment  accomplished 
the  liberation  of  himself  and  his  people  from  a  servitude 
more  bitter  than  death  itself. 

Massasoit  was  familiar  with  the  appearance  of  white  men 
before  the  arrival  of  the  Pilgrims  at  Plymouth.  In  1619, 
Captain  Thomas  Dermer,  an  Englishman,  visited  the  Massa- 
chusetts coast  and  held  an  interview  at  Namasket  with  "two 
kings"  of  Pokanoket,  undoubtedly  Massasoit  and  his  brother 
Quadequina.  The  English  were  regarded  with  suspicion 
and  dislike  by  some  of  the  tribes  of  the  Wampanoag  con- 
federacy, owing  to  the  fact  that  a  certain  unscrupulous  trader  * 
had  kidnapped  some  of  the  natives  and  sold  them  into  slavery 

*  Captain  Thomas  Hunt.  He  sold  the  Indians,  Winslow  tells  us,  for 
£20  apiece  "like  a  wretched  man  that  cares  not  what  mischief  he  doth 
for  his  profit." 


Sowams     in     Pokanoket  9 

in  Spain.  Had  the  English  attempted  a  settlement  at 
Plymouth  when  the  Pokanokets  were  at  the  zenith  of  their 
power,  they  would,  probably,  have  been  either  exterminated 
or  driven  from  the  country.  But,  in  1620,  Massasoit,  whose 
fortunes  were  at  the  ebb,  stood  ready  to  extend  the  right- 
hand  of  fellowship  to  the  pale-faced  strangers,  in  whom  he 
perceived  the  possible  deliverers  of  his  nation.  The  treaty 
with  the  Pilgrims  into  which  he  entered  at  Plymouth  in 
March,  1621,  was  the  bold  stroke  of  a  wise  statesman  and 
an  experienced  politician.  The  article  in  the  treaty  which 
stipulated  that  the  English  should  aid  him  if  "any  did  un- 
justly war  against  him"  makes  his  position  plain.  "We 
cannot  yet  conceive  but  that  he  is  willing  to  have  peace  with 
us,"  writes  Winslow,  alluding  to  this  treaty.  "And  especially 
because  he  hath  a  potent  adversary,  the  Narrowhigansets 
that  are  at  war  with  him;  against  whom,  he  thinks,  we  may 
be  some  strength  to  him;  for  our  pieces  are  terrible  unto 
them."  Subsequent  events  proved  that  Massasoit 's  policy 
was  not  at  fault  for,  with  the  assistance  of  his  white  allies,  he 
was  finally  enabled  to  throw  off  the  galling  yoke  of  Canonicus, 
and  to  restore  the  Wampanoags  to  their  old-time  position  of 
independence  and  power. 

In  July,  1621,  Governor  William  Bradford  decided  to  send 
a  deputation  to  Pokanoket,  to  "discover  the  country,"  to 
"continue  the  league  of  peace  and  friendship"  which  had 
been  entered  into  a  few  months  previous  at  Plymouth,  and 
to  procure  corn  for  planting.  Provided  with  gifts,  a  horseman's 
laced  coat  of  red  cotton  and  a  chain,  Edward  Winslow  and 
Stephen  Hopkins  set  out  from  Plymouth  on  Monday,  July  2d, 
having  for  a  guide  Tisquantum,  or  Squanto,  the  friendly 
Indian  whose  name  appears  so  conspicuously  in  the  early 
annals  of  Plymouth.  The  trail  followed  led  the  travellers 
through  Titicut  in  the  north-west  part  of  Middle  borough, 
where  they  spent  the  night,  to  Taunton,  thence  to  Mattapoiset 


10  Massasoit's    Town 

(South  Swansea)  and  from  there  to  Kickemuit  in  the  easterly 
part  of  Warren.  Undoubtedly  the  Kickemuit  River  was 
crossed  at  a  wading-place,  often  alluded  to  in  the  early  records 
of  Warren,  which  was  at  a  point  a  little  north  of  the  present 
Child  Street  bridge.  From  Kickemuit  they  continued  on 
to  So  warns  in  the  western  part  of  the  town  on  the  shores 
of  the  Warren  River,  then  known  as  the  Sowams  River.  There 
seems  little  reason  to  doubt  that,  in  going  from  Kickemuit 
to  Sowams,  they  followed  a  winding  trail  leading  along  what 
now  constitutes  the  .Kickemuit  Road,  and  Market  Street 
in  Warren,  as,  in  1621,  the  westerly  portion  of  Child  Street* 
was  a  thick  swamp.  This  visit  of  Winslow  and  Hopkins 
was  the  second  paid  by  white  men  to  Rhode  Island,  the  first 
visit  having  been  made  by  Verazzano  and  his  companions 
nearly  a  century  before. 

Winslow's  party  arrived  at  Sowams  on  the  afternoon  of  July 
4th,  but  Massasoit  proved  to  be  absent  from  home.  Mes- 
sengers were  immediately  dispatched  after  him,  and  he  shortly 
appeared  being  greeted  by  a  discharge  of  his  white  visitors' 
guns.  He  welcomed  the  Englishmen  cordially  and  invited 
them  into  his  wigwam,  where  they  delivered  a  lengthy  message 
from  Governor  Bradford  and  presented  the  gifts  they  had 
brought  with  them.  The  sachem  at  once  donned  the  coat  and 
hung  the  chain  about  his  neck.  "  He  was  not  a  little  proud," 
says  Winslow,  "to  behold  himself;  and  his  men  also  to  see 
their  king  so  bravely  attired." 

In  answer  to  the  Governor's  message  Massasoit  made  a 
long  speech  in  which  he  mentioned  some  thirty  different 
places  over  which  he  exercised  jurisdiction,  and  promised 
that  his  people  should  bring  their  skins  to  the  English.  At 
the  close  of  the  speech  he  offered  his  guests  tobacco  and  then 
"fell  to  discoursing"  of  England,  King  James,  and  the  French 

*  From  Handy  Street  to  Metacom  Avenue. 


Sowams    in    Pokanoket  11 

against  whom  he  seemed  to  feel  a  particular  aversion.  "Late 
it  grew,"  states  Winslow  in  his  narrative  of  this  journey  to 
Pokanoket,  "but  victuals  he  offered  none:  for  indeed  he 
had  not  any;  being  he  came  so  newly  home,  so  we  desired 
to  go  to  rest." 

Upon  the  following  day  many  petty  sachems  came  to 
Sowams  to  pay  their  respects  to  their  white  allies.  They 
entertained  the  strangers  by  playing  various  games,  the 
stakes  being  skins  and  knives.  The  Englishmen  challenged 
them  to  a  shooting  match  for  skins,  but  they  "durst  not" 
accept  the  challenge.  They,  however,  desired  one  of  the  two 
to  shoot  at  a  mark,  "who  shooting  with  hail  shot  (bird  shot) 
they  wondered  to  see  the  mark  so  full  of  holes."  This  "shoot- 
ing at  a  mark"  is  the  first  instance  of  target  practice  by  a 
white  man  within  the  limits  of  Rhode  Island  of  which  we 
have  any  record. 

On  Friday  morning  Winslow  and  Hopkins  took  their 
departure  from  Sowams,  carrying  with  them  some  seed  corn 
which  Massasoit  had  given  them.  The  sachem  earnestly 
entreated  them  to  prolong  their  stay;  but  the  Englishmen 
"desired  to  keep  the  Sabbath  at  home,"  so  declined  the  invi- 
tation. They  reached  Plymouth,  on  Saturday  night,  "wet, 
weary,  and  surbated,"  indeed,  yet  with  the  satisfaction  of 
feeling  that  the  object  of  their  mission  had  been  attained. 

In  March,  1623,  "news  came  to  Plymouth  that  Massasoit 
was  like  to  die;  and  that,  at  the  same  time,  there  was  a  Dutch 
ship  driven  so  high  on  the  shore  by  stress  of  weather,  right 
before  his  dwelling  that,  till  the  tides  increased  she  could 
not  be  got  off."  Upon  receipt  of  this  intelligence  Governor 
Bradford  deemed  it  expedient  to  dispatch  a  second  expedition 
to  Sowams  for  the  two-fold  purpose  of  expressing  his  friend- 
ship for  the  Wampanoag  chief  and  obtaining  "some  confer- 
ence with  the  Dutch."  Edward  Winslow  was  again  selected 
as  the  government's  messenger,  having  for  a  "consort"  a 


12  Massasoit's    Town 

certain  Master  John  Hamden,  "a  gentleman  of  London"  (sup- 
posed by  some  to  be  the  famous  parliamentarian  of  that  name) 
and  for  a  guide,  the  friendly  native  Hobbamock.  The  party 
followed  the  ancient  Indian  trail,  and,  upon  nearing  Mattapoi- 
set,  were  informed  that  Massasoit  was  "dead  and  buried." 
Hobbamock  desired  the  Englishmen  to  "return  with  all 
speed"  to  Plymouth,  but  Winslow  being  anxious,  if  the 
king  was  indeed  dead,  to  enter  into  friendly  relations  with 
his  successor,  decided  to  continue  the  journey.  At  Matta- 
poiset,  the  wife  of  Corbitant,  sachem  of  the  Pocassets,  gave 
the  travellers  "friendly  entertainment,"  and,  as  no  definite 
information  regarding  Massasoit's  condition  was  obtainable, 
Winslow  dispatched  a  messenger  to  Pokanoket  to  ascertain 
the  truth.  The  messenger  returning  in  a  few  hours,  brought 
the  welcome  intelligence  that  the  chief  was  still  living  though 
critically  ill.  "Much  revived"  at  these  tidings,  Winslow  and 
his  companions  "set  forward  with  all  speed"  and  arrived 
at  their  destination  "late  within  night."  They  found  Massa- 
soit yet  alive,  though  apparently  very  near  his  end.  The 
Dutch  ship,  however,  had  departed  "about  two  of  the  clock 
that  afternoon,"  so  that,  as  regarded  one  of  its  intents,  their 
"journey  was  frustrate." 

This  Dutch  ship  probably  visited  Sowams  for  trading 
purposes.  The  fact  that  it  grounded  "  right  before  "  Massa- 
soit's dwelling  proves  that  the  sachimo  comaro  (sachem's 
house)  was  situated  on  the  shore  of  Sowams  (Warren)  River. 
Probably  it  stood  not  far  from  the  spring  still  known  as 
Massasoit's  Spring.  This  is  located  at  the  foot  of  Baker 
Street  in  the  compact  part  of  Warren.  In  its  natural  state 
it  was  a  powerful  spring,  bubbling  from  a  bed  of  pure  white 
sand.  Many  years  ago  it  was  excavated  to  the  depth  of 
about  eight  feet  and  walled  up  like  a  well.  At  a  distance  of 
five  feet  from  the  bottom  a  sluice-way  was  left,  through 
which  a  small  stream  flows  during  the  greater  part  of  the 


Sowams    in    Pokanoket  13 

year  and,  finding  its  way  to  the  surface,  trickles  into  the 
river.  The  water,  which  never  fails,  is  of  excellent  quality 
and  even  in  warm  weather  remains  pure  and  cold. 

When  the  Englishmen  entered  the  royal  wigwam,  they 
found  a  great  crowd  of  people  assembled  about  the  bed  of 
the  chief.  "There  they  were,"  narrates  Winslow,  "in  the 
midst  of  their  charms  for  him  making  such  a  hellish  noise, 
as  it  distempered  us  that  were  well,  and  therefore  unlike  to 
ease  him  that  was  sick."  Massasoit,  whose  sight  was  gone, 
greeted  Winslow  with  these  mournful  words,  "Oh  Winslow 
I  shall  never  see  thee  again!"  Winslow  answered  that 
Governor  Bradford  had  sent  from  Plymouth  certain  things 
deemed  by  the  English  good  in  illness  and,  "having  a  confec- 
tion of  many  comfortable  conserves  etc.,"  on  the  point  of 
his  penknife,  gave  the  sachem  some,  the  juice  of  which 
he  swallowed."  Whereat  those  that  were  about  him  much 
rejoiced;  saying  "he  had  not  swallowed  anything  in  ten  days 
before."  Winslow  then  washed  the  sick  man's  mouth  and 
gave  him  more  of  the  confection  dissolved  in  water  and, 
wichin  half  an  hour,  this  treatment  "wrought  a  great  alter- 
ation in  him  in  the  eyes  of  all  that  beheld  him."  His  sight 
began  to  return  which  gave  both  him  and  his  white  friends 
"good  encouragement."  Winslow  then  hastily  addressed 
a  letter  to  Governor  Bradford  describing  the  "good  success" 
of  the  expedition,  and  requesting  that  some  chickens  for 
broth,  medicine,  and  other  things  might  be  sent  him;  and, 
with  this  letter,  a  messenger  started  for  Plymouth  at  two 
o'clock  in  the  morning. 

Massasoit,  having  expressed  a  wish  for  some  "English 
pottage,"  Winslow,  though  "unaccustomed  and  unacquainted 
in  such  business,"  undertook  its  preparation.  He  "caused 
a  woman  to  bruise  some  corn"  which  he  placed  in  a  pipkin 
and,  as  soon  as  the  day  broke,  he  sallied  forth  with  Hamden 
in  search  of  herbs;  and,  finding  nothing  but  strawberry  leaves 


14  Massasoit's    Town 

gathered  a  handful  and  put  them  in  the  pot  with  the  corn 
with  a  slice  of  "saxifrax  root"  to  give  the  mixture  a  "good 
relish."  When  this  gruel  was  sufficiently  boiled,  he  strained 
it  through  his  handkerchief  and  gave  Massasoit  "at  least 
a  pint,  which  he  drank  and  liked  it  very  well."  After  this 
the  sachem's  sight  "mended  more  and  more,"  indeed,  so 
rapid  was  his  improvement  that,  says  Winslow,  "we  with 
admiration  blessed  God  for  giving  His  blessing  to  such  raw 
and  ignorant  means,  *  *  *  himself  and  all  of  them  ac- 
knowledging us  the  instruments  of  his  preservation." 

Massasoit  finding  himself  so  far  recovered,  now  besought 
Winslow  to  visit  all  that  were  ill  in  the  town  and  to  give  them 
the  same  treatment  that  had  proved  so  beneficial  in  his  own 
case,  saying  that  his  people  were  "good  folk."  Winslow 
acceeded  to  the  sachem's  request  though  it  was  "much  offen- 
sive to  him,"  he  "not  being  accustomed  to  such  poisonous 
savours."  An  entire  morning  was  spent  in  going  from 
wigwam  to  wigwam,  and  one  can  imagine  the  commingled 
awe  and  gratitude  with  which  the  simple  children  of  nature 
regarded  the  man  who,  to  them,  must  have  seemed  gifted 
with  divine  powers.  Doubtless  that  wondrous  season  of 
healing  was  long  remembered  in  So  warns,  and  doubtless  the 
name  of  Winslow  continued  to  remain  a  household  word  in 
the  Indian  village  many  years  after  its  owner  lay  slumbering 
in  his  grave. 

In  the  afternoon,  Winslow  again  sallied  forth,  gun  in  hand, 
to  gratify  the  desire  of  the  king  for  more  "pottage"  of  fowl. 
He  shot  an  "extraordinary  fat"  duck  and  with  it  prepared 
a  broth  of  which  Massasoit,  despite  all  warnings,  "ate  as 
much  as  would  well  have  satisfied  a  man  in  health."  The 
result  of  this  "gross  meal"  was  a  relapse  so  severe  that  even 
the  Englishmen  doubted  their  patients  recovery.  For  the 
space  of  four  hours  the  sick  man  bled  profusely  at  the  nose ; 
but,  at  last,  the  bleeding  ceased  and  he  fell  into  a  profound 


Sowams    in    Pokanoket  15 

slumber  from  which  he  awakened  refreshed  and  strengthened. 
Meanwhile  the  messenger  returned  from  Plymouth  with  the 
chickens  and  other  things  for  which  Winslow  had  asked,  but 
Massasoit  "finding  his  stomach  come  to  him,"  would  not 
have  the  fowls  killed,  "but  kept  them  for  breed."  These 
historic  chickens  were  the  first  domesticated  fowls  ever 
brought  into  Rhode  Island.  So  far  was  the  sachem's  health 
restored  that  the  Englishmen  dared  not  give  him  the  medicine 
sent  by  the  Plymouth  surgeon.  Massasoit,  himself,  felt 
assured  of  his  recovery.  "Now  I  see  the  English  are  my 
friends  and  love  me,"  he  exclaimed,  "and  whilst  I  live  I  will 
never  forget  this  kindness  they  have  showed  me."  These 
were  no  idle  words  as  subsequent  events  proved. 

During  the  white  men's  stay  at  Sowams  many  of  Massa- 
soit's  friends  and  allies  came  to  visit  him,  "some  by  their 
report  from  a  place  not  less  than  a  hundred  miles."  To  all 
comers  one  of  the  sachem's  chief  men  related  the  story  of 
Massasoit's  illness,  "how  near  he  was  spent;  how,  amongst 
others  his  friends  the  English  came  to  see  him;  and  how 
suddenly  they  recovered  him  to  this  strength  they  saw;  he 
being  now  able  to  sit  upright  by  himself."  But  it  was  not 
by  words  alone  that  the  "good  folk"  of  Sowams  showed 
their  appreciation  of  the  Englishmen's  services  to  them. 
"  Whilst  we  were  there,"  writes  Winslow,  "our  entertainment 
exceeded  all  other  strangers.  Divers  other  things  were  worth 
the  noting,"  he  adds,  "but  I  fear  I  have  been  too  tedious." 
Gladly  would  we  have  pardoned  the  worthy  chronicler  the 
most  "tedious"  description  of  that  primeval  entertainment 
which,  doubtless  included  feasting  and  dancing  and  wild 
aboriginal  sports.  Of  what  inestimable  value  would  it  have 
been  to  the  historian! 

But  it  was  at  the  moment  of  his  guests'  departure  that 
Massasoit  demonstrated  the  depth  of  his  gratitude  to  his 
preservers.    Calling  Hobbamock,  the  guide,  aside  he,  in  the 


16  Massasoit's    Town 

presence  of  two  or  three  of  his  most  trusted  counsellors, 
charged  him  to  acquaint  Winslow  with  the  existence  of  a 
plot  originated  by  the  Massachusetts  Indians  against  Weston's 
colony  at  Wessagusset  and  the  settlement  at  Plymouth. 
Hobbamock  faithfully  obeyed  his  sachem's  instructions. 
What  would  have  been  the  fate  of  the  Pilgrims  had  this  timely 
warning  not  been  given,  we  can  only  conjecture.  Massasoit 
advised  his  white  allies  to  "kill  the  men  of  Massachuset  who 
were  the  authors  of  this  intended  mischief,"  and  this  advice 
they  were  constrained  to  follow. 

This  second  visit  of  the  English  to  Sowams  marks  an  epoch 
in  the  history  of  both  red  men  and  white.  It  firmly  cemented, 
by  mutual  gratitude  and  esteem,  the  friendship  first  estab- 
lished on  a  political  basis.  Previous  to  it,  Massasoit 
appears  to  have  cherished  some  misgivings  regarding  the  good 
faith  of  his  Christian  allies.  But  his  restoration  to  health 
by  their  ministrations  removed  every  doubt  from  his  generous 
mind.  Witness  his  words,  "Now  I  see  that  the  English  love 
me  and  are  my  friends,  and  whilst  I  live  I  will  never  forget 
this  kindness  they  have  showed  me."     He  never  did  forget  it. 

Less  than  a  decade  after  this  eventful  visit,  an  English 
trading  house  was  established  within  the  limits  of  Sowams 
of  which  at  one  period,  Thomas  Prince,  afterwards  governor 
of  Plymouth  colony,  was  "master."  The  location  of  this 
trading  house  has  caused  historians  as  much  perplexity  as 
the  location  of  Sowams  village  itself.  William  J.  Miller  in  his 
"History  of  the  Wampanoag  Indians"  says  (p.  24),  "The 
trading  post  was  supposed  to  have  been  located  on  the  Bar- 
rington  side  of  the  river  (Warren  River)  on  the  land  known 
as  Phebe's  Neck."  A  little  thought  will  convince  anyone 
familiar  with  the  Sowams  region  that  the  trading  house  would 
never  have  been  placed  in  Barrington,  for  the  reason  that  a 
wide,  deep,  and  unfordable  river  lay  between  Phebe's  Neck 
and  Massasoit's  town  which  the  white  men  would  have  been 


Sowams     in     Pokanoket  17 

compelled  to  constantly  cross  and  recross  in  their  traffic 
with  the  Indians.  Moreover,  as  early  as  1652,  an  English 
settlement  had  been  planted  in  what  now  constitutes  the 
north-easterly  porl  ion  of  Warren  on  the  banks  of  the  Kicke- 
muit  River,  and  it  seems  only  reasonable  to  suppose  that  the 
colonists  placed  their  homes  in  close  proximity  to  the  trading 
house,  which,  probably,  was  also  a  fort. 

Governor  Winthrop  of  Massachusetts  states  in  his  "Jour- 
nal," under  the  date,  April  12,  1632;  "The  Governor  re- 
ceived letters  from  Plymouth  signifying  that  there  had  been 
a  broil  between  their  men  at  Sowamset  and  the  Narragansett 
Indians  who  set  upon  the  English  house  there  to  have  taken 
Owsamequin*  the  Sagamore  of  Packanocott,  who  fled  thither, 
with  all  the  people,  for  refuge;  and  that  Captain  Standish 
being  gone  thither,  to  relieve  the  three  English  which  were 
in  the  house,  sent  home  in  all  haste  for  more  men  and 
other  provisions,  upon  intelligence  that  Canonicus,  with  a 
great  army,  was  coming  against  them;  on  that  they  wrote 
to  our  Governor  for  some  powder,  to  be  sent  with  all  possible 
speed;  for  it  seemed  they  were  unfurnished.  Upon  this, 
the  Governor  presently  despatched  away  the  messenger  with 
so  much  powder  as  he  could  carry,  viz.,  27  pounds.  The 
messenger  returned  and  brought  a  letter  from  the  Governor 
(Bradford)  signifying  that  the  Indians  were  retired  from 
Sowamsett  to  fight  the  Pequots." 

The  Narragansetts  feared  and  disliked  the  white  men. 
The  Old  Indian  Chronicle  states  that  they  were  jealous  of 
Massasoit  "because  he  had,  from  the  first,  been  in  high  favor 
with  the  English."  Naturally  they  would  have  viewed  the 
establishment  of  an  English  trading  post  at  Sowams  with 
displeasure.  Whether  their  hostility  to  the  whites  led  to 
the  "broil"  at  Sowams,  or  whether,  as  has  been  suggested,! 

*  Another  name  of  Massasoit. 
t  Durfee,  "Whatcheer." 


18  Massasoit's    Town 

they  invaded  Pokanoket  for  the  purpose  of  compelling  Mass- 
asoit  and  his  warriors  to  assist  them  in  repulsing  the  Pequots, 
may  be  only  conjectured.  Standish,  perhaps  fearing  a 
second  incursion,  remained  at  Sowamset  until  some  time  in 
May* 

In  course  of  time,  the  trail  leading  from  Plymouth  to 
So  warns  became  a  familiar  path  to  the  people  of  the  Pilgrim 
settlement.  The  Plymouth  records  show  that  Edward 
Winslow  made,  at  least,  one  more  visit  to  Pokanoket,  and 
that  John  Alden,  Samuel  Nash,  and  others,  also  journeyed 
there.  All  who  explored  the  Sowamset  district  perceived 
that  it  was,  like  the  valley  of  Eshcol,  "a  good  land,"  and  the 
idea  of  establishing  a  plantation  within  its  limits  seems  to 
have  been  entertained  by  the  Plymouth  government  for 
some  years  before  such  a  settlement  was  actually  begun. 

The  most  famous  sojourner  at  Pokanoket,  in  those  early 
days,  was  Roger  Williams.  Banished  from  Salem,  in  January, 
1636,  he  "fled  from  the  savage  Christians  of  Massachusetts 
Bay  to  the  Christian  savages  of  Narragansett  Bay."  In 
"a  bitter  winter  season,"  he  made  his  way  through  the  wild 
forests  to  seek  a  new  home  in  the  domains  of  Massasoit,  the 
friend  of  white  men.  The  best  authorities  believe  that 
Massasoit  gave  him  shelter  at  Sowams  village  until  the  spring 
broke.  Williams  himself,  writes,  "When  I  came  (to  the 
Narragansett)  I  was  welcome  to  Ousamequin,"  and  "I  testify 
and  declare,  that,  at  my  first  coming  into  these  parts,  I 
obtained  the  lands  of  Seekonk  of  Ousamequin."  If  circum- 
stantial evidence  be  of  any  value,  Warren  has  certainly  good 
grounds  on  which  to  base  its  claim  to  the  honor  of  having 
been  the  first  spot  in  Rhode  Island  pressed  by  the  foot  of  the 
State's  illustrious  founder.  It  is  a  fact  worthy  of  note  that, 
one  hundred  and  twenty-nine  years  after  Roger  Williams 

*  Winthrop. 


Sowams    in    Pokanoket  19 

sought  refuge  with  Massasoit,  Rhode  Island's  great  educa- 
tional institution  (Rhode  Island  College,  now  Brown  Univer- 
sity), began  its  career  within  a  few  rods  of  the  site  of  the  royal 
wigwam  which,  presumably,  sheltered  the  Salem  exile. 

On  September  25,  1639,  Massasoit  and  his  eldest  son, 
then  known  as  Mooanam,  "appeared  at  Court  and  renewed 
the  ancient  league  with  the  Plymouth  government,"  Massasoit 
"acknowledging  himself  a  subject  of  the  King  of  England." 
Thirteen  years  later,  as  we  find  by  the  records  of  the  colony, 
an  English  plantation,  "rated"  at  the  value  of  £01:10:00, 
existed  at  Sowams.  This  settlement  was  located  on  the 
banks  of  the  Kickemuit  River  in  the  north-easterty  part  of 
the  present  town  of  Warren.  It  was  completely  destroyed 
by  the  Indians  during  King  Philip's  war;*  but,  as  late  as 
Revolutionary  times,  the  remains  of  its  cellars  and  hearth 
stones  were  still  visible.  Its  northern  limit  extended  to 
what  now  constitutes  the  boundary  line  separating  Warren 
from  North  Swansea.  Its  southern  limits  approached 
within  less  than  a  mile  of  the  Indian  village  of  the  same 
name.  At  just  what  date  the  first  log  cabin  of  a  white  settler 
was  erected  at  Sowams  we  have  no  means  of  ascertaining; 
but  it  is  not  unreasonable  to  suppose  that  the  little  hamlet 
grew  up,  slowly,  around  the  old  trading  house. f 

The  Kickemuit  River  is  a  picturesque  stream  which,  rising 
in  Swansea,  winds  along  the  shores  of  Warren  and  Bristol  and 
empties  into  Mount  Hope  Bay  at  a  point  called  by  the  Indians 
"Weypoiset,"  by  the  English  the  "Narrows."  On  the  west 
bank  of  the  river,  near  the  site  of  the  old  boundary  line  of 
Warren  and  Bristol,  is  a  living  spring  still  known  as  Kicke- 


*  Morton's  Memorial,  Appendix,  463. 

t  The  late  Miss  Annie  E.  Cole,  who  spent  many  years  in  collecting  his- 
torical data  relating  to  Warren,  believed  that  the  trading  post  occupied 
a  central  location  upon  the  west  bank  of  the  Kickemuit,  near  the  "wading- 
place"  before  mentioned. 


20  Massasoit's    Town 

muit  Spring.*  The  soil  in  the  vicinity  of  this  spring  is  mixed 
with  oyster,  clam,  and  quahaug  shells  to  the  depth  of  several 
feet,  and  from  it  various  aboriginal  implements  have  at  dif- 
ferent periods  been  exhumed.  It  is  evident  that  an  Indian 
village  once  occupied  the  locality,  f 

The  main  trail  winding  from  Kickemuit  to  So  warns  was 
intersected  by  shorter  paths  leading  to  various  sections  of 
Pokanoket.  The  Metacom  Avenue  of  today,  familiarly  known 
as  the  "Back  Road,"  is  identical  with  the  trail  worn  by 
moccasined  feet  in  travelling  to  and  from  Mount  Hope. 
Another  trail  closely  following  the  lines  of  the  present  Kicke- 
muit Road,  School  House  Road,  and  Swansea  Road,  led  to 
what  is  now  North  Swansea,  and  passed  the  "national  grind- 
ing mill"  of  the  Wampanoags,J  a  large  flat  rock  located  on 
the  west  side  of  the  Swansea  Road  at  a  point  very  near  the 

*  On  the  east  shore  of  the  river,  a  few  yards  below  the  "wading-place," 
could  be  seen  less  than  a  century  ago,  the  remains  of  an  Indian  "hot-house," 
a  cell-like  chamber  constructed  of  stone  and  built  into  the  river  bank, 
having  in  its  centre,  a  flat  bed  of  stone,  the  whole  enclosure  measuring 
about  eight  feet  in  length.  The  savages  made  use  of  the  sweating-bath 
in  sickness  or  to  cleanse  their  skins  of  accumulations  of  dirt,  paint,  and 
grease.  A  huge  fire  was  built  on  the  rude  fireplace  of  the  "hot  house," 
being  removed  after  the  chamber  became  thoroughly  heated.  The  In- 
dians then  seated  themselves  around  the  hot  stones,  and  remained  "for 
an  hour  or  more,"  says  Roger  Williams,  "taking  tobacco,  discoursing 
and  sweating  together."  After  thus  profusely  perspiring  they  plunged 
into  the  water,  to  cool  their  bodies. 

t  The  Indians  accounted  for  the  serpentine  course  of  Kickemuit  River 
thus.  Ages  ago,  they  said,  a  deluge  covered  the  whole  face  of  the  earth. 
When  the  waters  subsided,  a  certain  divinity  who  inhabited  Pokanoket, 
feeling  hungry  sallied  forth  in  search  of  food.  Espying  a  huge  eel  basking 
in  the  mud,  he  raised  his  spear  aloft  but  the  eel,  perceiving  his  design, 
began  wriggling  rapidly  in  the  opposite  direction.  As  it  twisted,  first  to 
the  right  then  to  the  left,  its  pursuer  was  obliged  to  also  constantly  turn 
and  turn  and  soon  became  so  fatigued  that  the  eel  easily  out-distanced 
him  and  finally  plunged  into  Mount  Hope  Bay.  The  track  left  in  the 
mud  by  pursued  and  pursuer  eventually  became  the  bed  of  the  Kicke- 
muit River. 

%  See  Appendix. 


Sowams    in    Pokanoket  21 

line  separating  Massachusetts  and  Rhode  Island.  There 
were  other  paths  leading  to  Birch  Swamp  in  the  north- 
easterly part  of  Warren,  to  Poppasquash  (the  name  then 
applied  to  the  westerly  part  of  Bristol),  and  to  a  ferry  over 
Sowams  River  by  means  of  which  connection  was  made  between 
Massasoit  ;s  town  and  Chachacust,  (a  neck  of  land  in  what  is 
now  Barrington).  The  two  last  mentioned  trails  are  identical 
with  North  and  South  Main  Streets  in  Warren. 

From  the  "wading-place"  a  trail  ran  eastward  a  short 
distance  and  then  branched  off  towards  Touiset,  Mattapoisett, 
and  other  localities.  A  careful  study  of  the  early  records  of 
Swansea  and  Warren  has  convinced  the  writer  that,  in  laying 
out  highways,  the  original  settlers  of  the  towns,  in  many 
instances,  merely  widened  the  ancient  trails  used  by  the 
Wampanoags  for  no  one  knows  how  many  centuries  prior 
to  the  arrival  of  the  Mayflower  in  Cape  Cod  Bay. 

The  Plymouth  government  having  established  a  settlement 
at  Sowams,  "the  garden  of  their  patent,*  "  granted  "certain 
worthy  gentlemen"  of  the  colony  leave  to  purchase  land  in 
the  Sowamset  district.  Negotiations  were  immediately 
entered  into  with  the  Wampanoag  chief,  which  resulted  in 
the  sale  of  "Sowams  and  Parts  Adjacent"  by  Massasoit 
and  his  oldest  son  Wamsutta  (Mooanam  or  Alexander),  in 
March,  1653.  The  purchasers  of  these  "Sawomes  Lands," 
which  included  the  greater  part  of  Pokanoket  were  Thomas 
Prince,  Thomas  Willett,  Miles  Standish,  Josiah  Winslow, 
William  Bradford,  Thomas  Clark,  John  Winslow,  Thomas 
Cushman,  William  White, f  John  Adams  and  Experience 
Mitchell.  The  price  paid  was  thirty-five  pounds  sterling, 
and  the  reader  scarcely  needs  to  be  told  that  the  Englishmen 
"got  the  best  of  the  bargain."     Why  Massasoit  consented 

*  Callender's  Historical  Discourse. 

t  William  White  died,  1621.  The  actual  purchasers  were  his  two  sons, 
Resolved  and  Peregrine. 


22  Massasoit's    Town 

to  "sell  his  birthright,"  is  a  question  more  easily  asked  than 
answered;  gratitude  probably  influenced  him,  in  part.  He 
never  forgot  that  he  owed  his  life  to  his  English  allies.  Pos- 
sibly, too,  the  wise  statesman,  realizing  the  superiority  of 
the  white  man's  civilization,  believed  his  people  would  be 
benefitted  by  closer  relationship  with  them.  He  is  said  to 
have  warned  his  sons  that  if  they  ever  engaged  in  war  against 
the  English  they  would  meet  with  defeat. 

The  Sowams  proprietors  did  not  immediately  enter  into 
possession  of  their  entire  purchase.  By  a  clause  in  the  "Grand 
Deed  of  Saile,"  they  were  restrained  from  occupying  "the 
neck"  (i.  e.  Mount  Hope  Neck*)  until  such  time  as  the  Indians 
should  remove  therefrom,  the  term  "neck"  as  used,  however, 
really  signifying  only  the  "uplands,"  or  central  portion  of 
what  now  constitutes  Warren  and  Bristol.  The  meadows 
(i.  e.  marshes)  on  either  side  the  "great  river,"  (Sowams 
River),  Kickemuit  River,  and  in  and  about  Poppasquash  and 
Chachacust  were  the  only  portions  of  the  territory  which 
actually  passed  into  their  hands  at  the  date  of  sale.  These  they 
at  once  proceeded  to  divide.  The  boundaries  of  the  several 
"lots"  are  plainly  described  in  the  "Records  of  Sowams  and 
Parts  Adjacent"  and  may  be  easily  traced  on  a  map  of  Bristol 
County,  R.  I.  The  lots  apportioned  within  the  limits  of 
Indian  and  English  Sowams  fell  to  the  share  of  Captain 
Miles  Standish,  Experience  Mitchell,  Resolved  and  Peregrine 
White,  Thomas  Willett,  John  Adams,  Thomas  Prince,  and 
John  and  Josiah  Winslow. 

The  lot  of  Captain  Standish  included  the  marshes  on  both 
sides  of  Kickemuit  River  from  the  source  of  the  stream  to 
"the  passage  where  they  have  usually  gone  over  with  canoes" 

*  The  English  gave  the  name  of  Mt.  Hope  Neck  to  the  peninsula  formed 
by  Sowams  River  and  Narragansett  Bay  on  the  west  and  Kickemuit  River 
and  Mt.  Hope  Bay  on  the  east.  It  is  a  tract  nine  miles  in  extent,  of  which 
one  mile  is  in  North  Swansea,  three  miles  are  in  Warren  and  the  remaining 
five  miles,  including  the  hill  from  which  the  neck  is  named  are  in  Bristol. 


Sowams     in     Pokanoket  23 

i.  e.  the  "wading-place."  Standish  also  had  land  on  the 
east  bank  of  the  river  from  the  wading-place  to  a  "certain 
creek"  running  towards  the  upland.  His  next  neighbor  on 
the  south  was  Experience  Mitchell  whose  "meadow"  extended 
from  the  creek  before  mentioned  to  "Clark's  Creek."  Be- 
yond Mitchell's  land  that  of  John  Adams  stretched  from 
"Clark's  Creek"  to  "Rocky  Run;"  while,  still  farther  south, 
the  lot  of  Resolved  White  ran  from  "Rocky  Rim"  to  "Wey- 
poisett,"  the  "narrows"  of  the  river.  Resolved  White  also 
possessed  a  strip  of  marsh  on  the  west  bank  of  the  stream 
which  began  at  the  "passage  with  canoes"  and  ended  at  a 
"broaken  red  oak  tree"  whose  location  no  man  now  knoweth. 

The  northern  boundary  of  Captain  Thomas  Willett's  lot 
was  marked  by  this  same  "  broaken  oak  tree  "  and  its  southern 
boundary  line  was  very  near  the  "narrows."  In  addition 
to  this  land  Willet  had  a  s(rip  of  marsh  on  the  east  bank  of 
Sowams  River.  South  of  this  strip  was  the  lot  of  John 
Winslow,  and  south  of  Winslow's  meadow  was  a  tract  of  land 
belonging  to  Peregrine  and  Resolved  White.  Willett's 
meadow  was  apparently  bounded  by  Massasoit's  village  on 
the  north,  the  marshes  of  which  were  not  divided,  undoubt- 
edly having  been  reserved  by  Massasoit  for  the  use  of  his 
people. 

The  land  on  the  east  shore  of  Belcher's  Cove,  an  arm  of 
Sowams  River,  fell  to  the  share  of  Thomas  Prince.  On  the 
west  side  of  the  Cove  the  meadows  "to  the  head  thereof"  were 
laid  out  to  Josias  Winslow  and  the  Whites.  The  Sowams 
Purchase"  was  a  speculation,  and  the  original  proprietors 
did  not  long  retain  their  land.  That  they  were  no  losers 
by  their  investment  is  proved  by  the  fact  that  Peregrine 
White  sold  his  share  for  £40  pounds,  five  pounds  more  than 
was  paid  the  Wampanoags  for  the  entire  territory  bought. 

From  1652  until  the  death  of  Massasoit  in  1660,  peace 
between  the  white  men  at  English  Sowams  and  the  red  men 


24  Massasoit's    Town 


at  Indian  Sowams  remained  uninterrupted.  The  civilized 
farmer  and  the  savage  warrior  appear  to  have  each  dwelt 
quietly  under  the  shadow  of  his  "own  vine  and  fig  tree" 
Doubtless  the  inhabitants  of  Massasoit's  town  were  more  or 
less  affected  by  every  day  intercourse  with  their  white  neigh- 
bors. They  must  have  learned  many  things  unknown  to 
the  savages  of  districts  remote  from  English  settlements. 
Firm  as  was  his  friendship  for  the  white  men,  however,  Massa- 
soit,  Hubbard  states,  "was  never  in  the  least  degree  well 
affected  to  the  religion  of  the  English "  and  would  fain  have 
forced  them  to  promise  "never  to  attempt  to  draw  away 
any  of  his  people  from  their  old  pagan  superstition  and  devilish 
idolatry."  He  lived  and  died  a  heathen,  clinging  pertina- 
ciously to  the  faith  and  gods  of  his  fathers. 

In  1658  the  Plymouth  government  voted  to  raise  a  troop 
of  horse  "out  of  the  several  townships  to  bee  reddy  for  ser- 
vice when  required."  Each  horse  was  to  be  "well  appointed 
with  furniture,  viz.;  a  saddle  and  a  case  of  petternells."  * 
Sowamsett  contributed  one  trooper  to  this  company. 

For  several  years  prior  to  the  death  of  Massasoit,  Wamsutta, 
or  Alexander,  was  associated  with  his  father  in  the  govern- 
ment of  the  Wampanoags,  and  when  the  great  chief's  spirit 
fled  from  earth  to  Sowaniu,  the  paradise  of  the  red  man, 
became  the  sachem  of  the  tribe.  He  does  not  appear  to 
have  made  his  father's  town  his  own  headquarters,  but  to 
have  resided  at  Mount  Hope.  Probably  his  village  stood 
near,  or  upon,  the  site  of  that  occupied  at  a  later  date  by  his 
brother  Philip.  Philip's  town  was  not  located  as  many 
writers  have  erroneouly  stated,  upon  the  mount,  itself,  but 
at  a  point  about  a  mile  and  a  half  north  of  it  and  near  the 
"narrows"  of  Kickemuit  River.  At  and  about  this  spot, 
relics  of  the  aborigines  have  been  disinterred  in  considerable 

*  "Petronel,  a  kind  of  carabine  or  horseman's  pistol."  Webster. 


Sowams     in     Pokanoket  25 

numbers,  and  the  remains  of  an  ancient  Indian  burial  ground 
was  discovered  there  several  years  ago. 

Soon  after  the  death  of  his  father  Wamsutta  repaired  to 
Plymouth  and  "professing  great  respect/'  desired  the  Court 
to  bestow  English  names  upon  himself  and  his  younger  brother. 
The  Court  acceded  to  the  request  and  named  the  sachem 
"Allexander  Pokanoket,"  his  brother  (Metacom)  Philip, 
presumably  after  Alexander  the  Great  and  Philip  of  Macedon. 
For  a  brief  period  succeeding  this  event,  the  old  time  friend- 
ship of  Wampanoag,  and  Englishman  remained  apparently 
undisturbed. 

In  1660  the  "rates"  of  Sowams  were  increased  to  £02:10:00. 
The  little  hamlet  was  slowly  gaining  in  population  and  im- 
portance. During  this  year,  the  Court  ordered  a  pound 
erected  at  Kickemuit,  as  Wamsutta  complained  that  corn 
belonging  to  his  people  had  been  injured  by  swine,  the  property 
of  the  English.  In  Jane,  1661,  Sowamsett  and  "all  the 
naighbors  there  inhabiting"  were  placed  under  the  "ward" 
of  Rehoboth,  and  it  was  decreed  that  twenty  shillings  of 
Sowams'  rates  should  "be  allowed  for  the  easing  of  Sandwich 
rates." 

Alexander's  good  faith  began  to  be  questioned  by  the 
English  early  in  1662.  The  governor  of  Plymouth  colony 
having  been  informed  that  the  sachem  was  endeavoring  to 
persuade  the  old-time  enemies  of  the  Wampanoags,  the 
Narragansetts,  to  join  him  in  a  revolt  against  the  whites, 
deputed  Captain  Thomas  Willett  to  investigate  the  truth 
of  the  report.  Upon  visiting  Mt.  Hope,  Captain  Willett  was 
assured  by  Alexander  that  the  Narragansetts  had  fabricated 
the  story  in  order  to  injure  the  Wampanoags  in  the  eyes  of 
the  English.  The  chief  agreed  to  attend  the  next  session 
of  the  Court  at  Plymouth  that  the  charges  against  him  might 
be  fully  investigated;  yet  when  the  Court  convened  he  failed 
to  appear  being,  it  was  said,  at  that  very  date  upon  a  visit 


26  Massasoit's    Town 

to  the  Narragansett  country.  The  government  decided  to 
deal  peremptorily  with  him  and,  accordingly,  Josias  Winslow, 
then  Major  Commandant  of  the  Colonial  militia,  was  de- 
patched  to  bring  him  to  Plymouth  by  force.  Winslow  and 
his  party  came  upon  the  sachem,  suddenly,  at  a  hunting 
lodge  near  Munponset  Pond  in  the  present  town  of  Halifax, 
Mass.;  and,  when  Alexander  declined  to  accede  to  the  Court's 
demand,  Winslow  presented  a  loaded  pistol  at  his  breast 
threatening  him  with  instant  death  if  he  persisted  in  his 
refusal.  Alexander  and  followers  were  almost  helpless, 
their  guns  which  had  been  stacked  outside  the  lodge  having 
been  seized  by  the  English  before  entering,  and  consequently, 
after  a  parley,  and  at  the  earnest  entreaty  of  his  people, 
the  sachem  yielded  to  the  inevitable  and,  accompanied  by 
his  wife  and  a  long  train  of  warriors  and  squaws  began  the 
march  towards  Plymouth.  Upon  reaching  Duxbury  he 
was  entertained  at  Major  Winslow's  house,  pending  the 
arrival  of  orders  from  Governor  Prince  who  resided  at  East- 
ham.  But  the  haughty  spirit  of  the  Wampanoag  king  could 
ill  brook  the  humiliation  of  arrest  and  imprisonment,  and 
Alexander  was  soon  smitten  with  a  raging  fever  induced 
by  grief  and  anger.  The  best  medical  skill  was  summoned 
to  attend  him,  but  he  sank  rapidly,  and  his  terrified  followers, 
believing  him  poisoned  by  the  English,  entreated  to  be  allowed 
to  carry  him  to  Mt.  Hope,  promising  to  return  with  him  as 
soon  as  he  should  recover  and  offering  to  send  his  son*  as 
a  hostage.  Their  request  was  granted  and  with  all  possible 
speed  they  started  on  the  homeward  journey.  They  bore 
their  chief  on  a  litter  until  they  reached  Titicut  where  they 
embarked  in  canoes,  but  had  proceeded  only  a  short  distance 
down  the  river  ere  they  perceived  that  he  was  dying.  They 
immediately  drew  their  frail  barks  to  the  shore,  lifted  him 

*  The  name  of  Alexander's  son  is  unknown. 


Sowams     in    Pokanoket  27 

from  the  canoe,  and  tenderly  placed  him  upon  the  grass.  In 
stoical  silence  they  awaited  the  end;  and,  when,  the  last 
fluttering  sigh  had  escaped  the  pallid  lips,  they  replaced 
the  form  of  the  dead  sachem  in  the  canoe,  grasped  their 
paddles  and,  with  hearts  burning  with  grief,  anger,  and  thirst 
for  revenge,  pushed  swiftly  and  silently  down  the  stream. 

The  tragic  death  of  Alexander, — the  direct  result  of  the 
bold  and  perhaps  unwise  policy  of  the  Plymouth  govern- 
ment— broke  the  first  link  in  the  chain  of  friendship  that  had 
bound  Wampanoag  and  Englishman  together.  The  sullen 
attitude  of  the  savages  awakened  anxiety  among  the  colonists, 
and  it  was  with  some  alarm  that  those  dwelling  at  the 
Sowams'  settlement  beheld  a  vast  concourse  of  savages 
gathered  at  Mt.  Hope  to  mourn  for  the  dead  chief  and  to 
celebrate  his  brother  Philip's  accession  to  the  sachemship.  But 
the  feared  outbreak  of  hostilities  did  not  occur.  Whatever 
Philip's  real  feelings  were,  he  apparently  desired  to  live  in 
amity  with  the  English;  and  a  few  months  after  becoming 
the  head  of  his  tribe  renewed  the  "covenant"  which  Massa- 
soit  had  made  with  the  government  of  Plymouth.  He 
does  not  seem  to  have,  at  first,  felt  a  prejudice  against  the 
Christian  religion  for,  in  the  winter  of  1663-4,  he  and  his 
people  sent  to  John  Eliot  for  "books  to  learn  to  read  and  to 
pray  unto  God."  Eliot's  son  twice  visited  Pokanoket  and 
taught  among  the  Wampanoags,  and  from  a  letter  ad- 
dressed by  Eliot  to  the  United  Colonies  in  1664,  it  appears 
probable  that  the  apostle,  himself,  labored  at  Mt.  Hope  in 
1664-5. 

The  hamlet  by  the  Kickemuit  continued  under  the  ward 
of  Rehoboth  during  1663  and  1664,  being  ordered  to  so  re- 
main until  such  time  as  the  "  naighborhood "  should  be  in 
a  capassitie  and  desire  to  be  a  township  of  themselves."  In 
1664  Sowams  was  rated  at  £2:05:00;  in  1666  at  £07:17:06; 
in  1667,  at  £10:10:00.     During  this  same  year,  ''Wannamoi- 


28  Massasoit's    Town 

sett*  and  Parts  Adjacent"  were  incorporated  as  a  township 
under  the  name  of  Swansea.  The  charter  granted  it  de- 
scribed the  township  as  "all  such  lands  that  lyeth  betwixt 
the  salt  water  Bay  and  coming  up  Taunton  River  all  the  land 
between  the  salt  water  and  river  and  the  bounds  of  Taunton 
and  Rehoboth."  It  will  readily  be  seen  that  the  site  of 
Warren  was  included  within  the  bounds  of  this  extensive 
territory.  The  history  of  Sowams  thus  became  merged  in 
that  of  Swansea,  less  than  a  score  of  years  after  its  commence- 
ment, and  from  the  annals  of  Swansea  the  chronicler  must 
glean  the  facts  that  make  up  its  final  chapters. 

It  is  not  within  the  province  of  this  sketch  to  discuss  at 
length  the  causes  which  led  to  that  mighty  struggle  between 
savagery  and  civilization  known  is  history  as  King  Philip's 
War.  For  some  years  after  he  became  sachem,  Philip  main- 
tained an  outward  show  of  fealty  to  the  English.  But  as 
time  went  on  the  relations  of  red  men  and  white  became 
strained.  The  Indian  saw  the  forests  rapidly  vanishing  be- 
neath the  colonist's  axe,  and  realized  that  the  game  on  which 
he  depended  for  sustenance  would,  also,  soon  disappear. 
He  was  forced  to  sell  his  lands  for  the  necessities  of  life,  and 
he  complained  bitterly,  and  too  often  with  reason,  of  wrongs 
inflicted  upon  him  by  his  white  brother.  Moreover,  he  was 
fast  becoming  debased  by  the  vices  of  civilization.  Philip 
was  a  statesman  and  a  patriot.  He  loved  his  country  and 
his  people.  In  the  increasing  power  of  the  English  he  saw 
presaged  the  downfall  of  his  race.  He  resolved  to  attempt 
the  extermination  of  the  usurpers.  His  fertile  brain  evolved 
a  scheme  for  a  union  of  the  various  native  tribes  against 
the  common  foe.  The  English  suspected  his  designs,  yet 
he  many  times  adroitly  baffled  their  watchfulness.  The 
fates,  however,  were  against  him,  and  he  was  destined  never 
to  work  out  the  salvation  of  his  people. 

*  See  Appendix. 


Sowams    in     Pokanoket  29 

In  1675,  John  Sassamon,  a  Christian  Indian  employed  as  a 
sort  of  private  secretary  by  Philip,  warned  the  Plymouth 
government  that  his  master  was  plotting  against  it.  Philip 
discovered  the  perfidy  of  Sassamon,  and  shortly  afterward, 
the  dead  body  of  the  latter  was  found  beneath  the  ice  in 
Assawamset  Pond  in  Middleborough.  The  English  doubted 
not  that  Sassamon  had  been  put  to  death  by  the  sachem's 
order.  They  arrested  three  savages  whom  they  charged 
with  the  murder,  tried  them  before  a  jury  composed  of  twelve 
Englishmen  and  four  Indians,  and  sentenced  them  to  death, 
though  two  of  them  maintained  their  innocence  to  the  last. 
Philip  had  been  summoned  to  Plymouth  to  testify  regarding 
his  own  connection  with  the  murder,  but  he  was  too  wise  to 
obey  an  injunction,  so  fraught  with  peril.  Instead,  he  openly 
hurled  defiance  at  his  accusers. 

His  first  overt  act  was  committed  within  the  limits  of 
Sowams.  "A  little  before  the  Court,"  the  Plymouth  Records 
tell  us,  "Philip  began  to  keep  his  men  in  armes  about  him 
and  to  gather  strangers  unto  him  and  to  march  about  in 
armes  toward  the  vperendof  the  Necke  on  which  he  lived  and 
neare  to  the  English  houses  whoe  began  thereby  to  be 
somewhat  disquieted  but  tooke  as  yett  noe  further  notice 
but  only  to  sett  a  military  watch  in  the  next  Townes  as 
Swanzey  and  Rehoboth."  The  Indians,  however  did  not 
long  confine  themselves  to  stalking  about  and  flourishing 
their  weapons.  Their  powwows,  or  priests,  having  prophesied 
defeat  to  which  ever  party  should  shed  the  first  blood  in 
the  conflict,  they  sought  to  provoke  the  English  to  attack 
them  by  shooting  their  cattle,  frightening  women,  and  insult- 
ing travellers.  On  the  18th  or  19th  of  June,  Job  Winslow's 
house  *  was  "broken  up  and  rifled"  by  them.     On  Sunday, 

*  After  the  close  of  Philip's  war,  Job  Winslow  erected  a  "dwelling  house  " 
near  the  "  wading- place "  at  Kickemuit  on  what  is  now  the  farm  of  Mr. 
Edward  Ennis.  It  is  probable  that  the  house  "broken  up"  by  the 
Indians  occupied  this  same  site. 


30  Massasoit's    Town 

June  20th,  a  party  of  eight  warriors  fully  armed,  invaded 
the  hamlet.  They  knocked  at  the  door  of  a  colonist  and 
demanded  permission  to  grind  their  hatchets.  Upon  being 
told  that  the  grinding  of  hatchets  on  the  Lord's  Day  was 
a  sin  they  replied,  "We  know  not  who  your  God  is  and  we 
shall  grind  our  hatchets  for  all  you  or  your  God  either." 
They  then  proceeded  to  another  house  where  they  helped 
themselves  liberally  to  food.  Continuing  along  the  road 
they  met  an  Englishman  whom  they  took  prisoner,  but  later 
dismissed,  after  enjoining  him  not  to  work  on  the  Lord's 
Day  and  to  tell  no  lies. 

As  they  proceeded  on  they  began  to  shoot  the  cattle  in 
the  fields,  encountering  no  resistance  as  nearly  all  the  settlers 
were  in  attendance  at  public  worship.  At  length  they  reached 
a  house  whose  owner  was  not  at  church.  They  killed  his 
cattle,  then  entered  the  house  and  demanded  liquor,  which 
being  refused  they  attempted  to  seize  by  violence.  The 
Englishman  infuriated, snatched  up  his  gun  and  fired, seriously 
injuring  one  of  the  savages.  The  Indians  immediately  retired, 
bearing  the  wounded  warrior  with  them,  and  breathing 
threats  of  vengeance.  Back  through  Sowams  they  swiftly 
wended  their  way  to  their  own  territory.  Tradition  says 
that  at  Kickemuit  Spring  they  met  Philip,  who  wept  when 
he  heard  their  story,  and  there  seems  little  reason  to  doubt 
the  truth  of  the  tradition.  Though  he  had  long  meditated 
war,  the  sachem  was  not  yet  fully  prepared  for  it.  Events 
unforeseen  had,  however,  hastened  the  crisis.  He  found 
it  impossible  to  curb  the  impatience  and  fury  of  his  younger 
warriors,  and  though  he  had  failed  to  complete  his  cherished 
scheme  for  a  general  uprising  of  the  red  men,  he  could  no 
longer  delay  open  battle  with  the  enemy.  Perhaps  a  prophetic 
foreboding  of  defeat  forced  the  tears  from  his  eyes. 

The  raid  upon  Sowams  was  the  beginning  of  a  reign  of 
terror  that  extended  over  every  portion  of  Swansea.      The 


Sowams     in     Pokanoket  31 


Plymouth  government,  upon  being  notified  of  the  condition 
of  affairs,  immediately  dispatched  companies  of  militia  to 
the  assistance  of  the  distressed  township.  On  June  22d, 
six  men  were  killed  or  mortally  wounded  at  Mattapoiset. 
Thursday,  June  24th,  was  appointed  a  day  of  fasting  and 
pra}',er,  and  as  some  of  the  colonists  were  returning  from 
church  they  were  fired  upon  by  the  Indians  with  the  result 
that  one  man  was  killed  and  another  wounded.  During 
the  same  day  "six  men  were  killed  in  another  part  of  the 
town."  On  the  28th,  William  Hammond  was  killed  and  "one 
Corporal  Belcher"  wounded  while  scouring  the  "enemy's 
territory"  between  Miles'  garrison*  at  North  Swansea  and 
the  Sowams'  settlement.  On  the  29th,  a  party  of  Indians  who 
had  shown  themselves  near  the  garrison  were  pursued  by 
the  English  towards  Sowams  but  made  their  escape  into  a 
nearby  swamp. f  That  night  Philip,  fearful  of  capture, 
abandoned  Mt.  Hope  Neck  retreating  across  the  bay  to 
Pocasset,  now  Tiverton.  One  of  the  last  acts  performed 
by  the  savages  ere  quitting  the  home  of  their  ancestors,  was 
the  final  destruction  of  Sowams.  Hubbard  tells  us  that 
on  the  following  day  the  entire  English  force  (which  had 
concentrated  at  North  Swansea)  marched  from  Miles'  garri- 
son towards  Mt.  Hope.  At  a  point  about  a  mile  and  a  half 
below  the  bridge  near  the  garrison  they  "passed  by  some 
houses  newly  burned"  and  "not  far  off  one  of  them  they 
found  a  Bible  newly  torn  and  the  leaves  scattered  about  by 
the  enemy."  These  charred  ruins  and  torn  and  scattered 
leaves  were  all  that  remained  of  English  Sowams,  ill-fated 
Sowams,  strangely  destined  to  be  destroyed  by  the  same 
hands  that  had  nurtured  it  in  its  infancy.  Two  or  three 
miles  further  on,  at  the  "Narrow*  of  the  Neck"  on  the  west 

*  This   was   located   in   what   is   now   Barneysville.     The   bridge   over 
Palmer's  River  near  its  site  is  still  generally  called  "Miles'  Bridge" 
t  Birch  Swamp  in  the  north-easterly  part  of  Warren. 


32  Massasoit's    Town 

bank  of  Kickemuit  River  the  soldiers  discovered  the  "heads, 
hands,  and  scalps"  of  eight  Englishmen,  murdered  at  Matta- 
poisett,  "stuck  up  on  poles  near  the  highway,"  close  by  the 
spot  which  must  have  been  pressed  by  the  feet  of  Winslow 
and  Hopkins  when,  journeying  from  Plymouth  to  Pokanoket 
in  1621,  they  crossed  the  "  wacling-place  "  at  Kickemuit  and 
entered  Sowams  for  the  purpose  of  continuing  the  "league 
of  peace  and  friendship"  with  Massasoit,  and  of  securing 
from  the  savage  chief  the  supply  of  seed  corn  which  the  feeble 
colony  of  Plymouth  then  stood  sorely  in  need  of. 

The  site  of  English  Sowams  remained  desolate  from  that 
eventful  June  day  until  some  time  after  the  close  of  the  war 
which  soon  followed  the  death  of  King  Philip  in  August,  1676. 
About  1678,  settlers  began  to  rebuild  along  the  Kickemuit, 
and  the  old  "ways"  and  "bridal  paths"  laid  out  "long 
since"  by  the  Sowams'  colonists  were  re-surveyed,  descriptions 
of  them  being  carefully  recorded.  Most  of  these  ancient 
highways  are  in  use  at  the  present  day.  There  being  no 
Indians  left  on  Mount  Hope  Neck,  the  territory  now  occupied 
by  the  town  of  Bristol  and  the  compact  part  of  Warren, 
passed  into  the  possession  of  the  successors  of  the  original 
Sowams'  proprietors,  by  virtue  of  the  deed  executed  by  Massa- 
soit and  Wamsutta  in  1653.  By  an  arbitrary  act,  King 
Charles  transferred  the  site  of  Bristol  to  Plymouth,  but  that 
of  Warren  became  a  part  of  Swansea.  As  early  as  1671,  the 
last  mentioned  district  was  known  by  the  name  of  "Brooks' 
Pasture,"  undoubtedly  from  some  right  of  ownership  in  it 
possessed  by  Timothy  Brooks.*  What  that  right  was  the 
writer  has  been,  thus  far,  unable  to  discover,  though  a  careful 
and  diligent  search  of  the  early  records  has  been  made  in  the 
hope  of  solving  the  mystery.  At  different  periods,  between 
1681  and  1725,  Brooks'  Pasture — with  the  exception  of  the 
meadows  or  marshes  divided  in  1653  between  Thomas  Prince 

*  See  Appendix. 


Sowams    in    Pokanoket  33 

and  his  partners  in  the  Sowams'  purchase — was  laid  out  and 
divided  among  the  proprietors  there  being,  in  all,  eight  several 
apportionments  of  land  made. 

It  is  uncertain  at  what  date  the  first  dwelling  house  was 
erected  in  the  western  part  of  Brooks'  Pasture.  In  1746, 
that  section  of  Swansea  now  occupied  by  the  two  towns  of 
Barrington  and  Warren  was  ceded  to  Rhode  Island,  incor- 
porated as  a  township,  and  given  the  name  of  Warren  in  honor 
of  Admiral  Sir  Peter  Warren,  the  hero  of  Loulsburg  and 
Cape  Breton.  WTarren's  proximity  to  the  ocean,  and  its 
excellent  harbor  facilities,  early  led  the  inhabitants  to  engage 
in  maritime  pursuits;  and,  in  course  of  time,  the  wharves, 
and  shops,  ship  yards  and  dwelling  houses  of  a  flourishing 
seaport  sprang  up  to  replace  the  vanished  wigwams  of  Massa- 
soit's  town,  Sowams  in  Pokanoket. 


dk 


Appendix 

Some  Notes  on  the  Family  of  Massasoit 

Massasoit  had  two  brothers,  Quadequina  and  Akkompoin. 
When  Massasoit  visited  Plymouth,  March  22,  1621,  he  was 
accompanied  by  Quadequina  who  is  described  as  a  "very 
proper,  tall  young  man,  of  a  very  modest  and  seemly  counte- 
nance." It  is  supposed  that  Massasoit  took  the  name  of 
Ousamequin  upon  the  death  of  Quadequina. 

Akkompoin,  Uncompawen,  or  Woonkaponehunt,  was  one 
of  King  Philip's  counsellors.  He  signed  the  treaties  made 
by  Philip  with  the  English  at  Plymouth,  August  6,  1662; 
at  Taunton,  April  10,  1671;  and  at  Plymouth,  September 
29,  1671.  He  was  killed  by  the  English,  while  attempting 
to  cross  Taunton  river,  July  31,  1676. 

Namumpum,  alias  Tatapanum,  alias  Weetamoe,  the  wife 
of  Mooanum,  alias  Wamsutta,  alias  Alexander,  alias  Sopaquitt, 
Massasoit's  eldest  son,  is  known  in  history  as  the  "Squaw 
Sachem  of  Pocasset."  She  is  supposed  to  have  been  the  daugh- 
ter of  Corbitant  of  Mattapoiset.  At  ihe  time  of  her  marriage 
to  Alexander  she  was  the  widow  of  an  Indian  named  Weeque- 
quinequa.  Soon  after  the  death  of  Alexander  she  wedded 
a  third  husband  Quiquequanchett,  of  whom  nothing  definite 
is  known.  She  married,  fourth,  Petownonowit,  who  espoused 
the  English  cause  during  Philip's  War,  in  consequence  of 
which  his  wife  separated  from  him  and  formed  an  alliance 
with  Quinnapin,  a  young  Narragansett  sachem,  and  one  of 
Philip's  chief  captains.  Weetamoe  followed  the  fortunes 
of  Philip  throughout  the  war.  She  was  drowned  in  Taunton 
River,  near  Mattapoisett,  August,  1676.  Alexander  had  a 
son,  but  of  his  history  nothing  seems  to  be  known. 


Sowams    in    Pokanoket  35 

Metacomet  alias  Pometacom,  alias  King  Philip,  alias 
Wewascowanett,  Massasoit's  second  son,  married  Wootone- 
kanuske,  a  sister  of  Weetamoe.  They  had  two  children,  one 
of  whom  died  in  1671.  The  other,  a  boy  of  eight,  was,  with 
his  mother,  captured  by  the  English,  August  1,  1676,  and, 
after  the  death  of  Philip,  both  mother  and  son  were  shipped 
to  the  West  Indies  and  sold  into  slavery.  Of  their  subse- 
quent fate  there  is  no  record. 

Sunconewhew  was  the  third  son  of  Massasoit.  His  name 
appears  upon  a  deed  given  by  Philip,  March  30,  1668,  con- 
firming the  sale  of  the  town  of  Rehoboth  made  by  Massasoit 
in  1641.  It  is  said  that  King  Philip  had  a  brother  killed, 
July  18,  1675,  who  was  a  great  captain  and  had  been  educated 
at  Harvard  College.     This  was  probably  Sunconewhew. 

Massasoit  had  a  daughter  Amie.  She  married  Watuspa- 
quin,  or  Tuspaquin,  chief  of  the  Assawamset  Indians,  gener- 
ally called  by  the  English  the  "Black  Sachem."  She  is 
probably  the  "sister  of  Philip"  who  was  captured  by  the 
English,  July  31,  1676.  Her  husband  was  put  to  death  by 
the  Plymouth  authorities  in  September,  1676.  Descendants 
of  Tuspaquin  and  Amie  are  living,  the  last  of  the  royal  race 
of  Massasoit.  For  an  authentic  and  interesting  account  of 
them  the  reader  Is  referred  to  "Indian  History,  Biography 
and  Geneology"  by  Ebenezer  W.  Pierce  of  Freetown,  Mass. 
published,  1878,  by  Zerviah  Gould  Mitchell,  sixth  in  line  of 
descent  from  Tuspaquin  and  Amie,  his  wife. 

Historic  Localities  in  and  About  Sowams 

Touiset.  Indian  name  of  a  neck  of  land  lying  between 
Kickemuit  and  Cole's  Rivers.  The  western  portion  of  it  is 
in  Warren,  the  eastern  in  Swansea.  Indian  relics  have  been 
exhumed  from  its  soil,  and,  perhaps  an  Indian  village  was 
once    located    upon    it.      April    10,  1673,  Tottomommuck, 


36  Massasoit's    Town 

sachem  of  Seaconnet  (Little  Compton,  R.  I.),  sold  "land  in 
Swansea  called  Towsett,"  *  to  Nathaniel  Paine.  In  the 
early  records  of  Swansea  Touiset  is  generally  termed  "The 
Sheep  Pasture."  It  was  laid  out  in  106  lots  which  were 
divided  among  the  Swansea  proprietors  in  1686.  In  July 
1675,  a  great  concourse  of  Philip's  warriors  gathered  at 
Touiset,  near  the  "narrows"  of  the  Kickemuit  River,  "to  eat 
clams,  other  provisions  being  scarce."  Captain  Benjamin 
Church,  then  at  Pocasset  (Tiverton),  greatly  desired  to  sur- 
prise and  capture  this  body  of  the  enemy;  but,  as  he  had 
peremptory  orders  to  proceed  from  Pocasset  directly  to  Mt. 
Hope,  he  was  compelled  to  allow  them  to  remain  unmolested. 

After  the  close  of  Philip's  war,  the  remnant  of  the  Wam- 
panoags  fled  to  Maine,  and  ultimately  became  merged  in 
the  Penobscot  tribe.  Up  to  half  a  century  ago,  parties  of 
Penobscot  Indians  were  in  the  habit  of  making  periodical 
visits  to  Warren,  camping  for  several  days  in  various  parts 
of  the  town.  Before  returning  to  Maine,  they  invariably 
paid  a  visit  of  a  few  hours  to  what  is  known  as  the  "Hicks' 
Farm"  on  Touiset  Neck,  though  for  what  purpose  this  par- 
ticular  locality   was   visited   they  never  divulged. 

King's  Rocks,  the  "National  Grinding  Mill"  of  the 
Wampanoags.  The  following  article,  contributed  by  Gen. 
Guy  M.  Fessenden,  appeared  in  the  "Warren  Telegraph" 
issue  of  June  2,  1860. 

"Mr.  Editor:  An  interesting  discovery  in  reference  to  the 
aboriginal  history  of  this  town  has  recently  been  made.  Mr. 
Francis  Loring,  an  intelligent  Indian,  and  a  member  of  the 
Penobscot  tribe,  who  has  been  in  this  vicinity  for  several 
weeks,  informed  the  writer  that  the  tribe  had  in  their  posses- 
sion, and  which  they  carefully  preserved  among  their  national 
archives,  an  ancient  book  made  of  skins,  containing  many 
descriptions  of  important  historical  localities,  some  of  which 

*  Taunton  Records. 


Sowams    in    Pokanoket  37 

are  in  this  vicinity,  all  of  them  in  the  ancient  Indian  style 
of  signs  and  picture  writing.  One  of  these  pictures  repre- 
sents four  men  rolling  a  heavy  circular  stone,  by  a  stick 
placed  through  a  hole  in  the  centre,  back  and  forth  over  a 
quantity  of  corn,  and  described  as  the  Wampanoag  national 
grinding  mill,  where  corn  was  ground  for  war  parties  or  for 
any  large  public  gathering  of  the  people. 

"The  locality  of  the  place  was  so  plainly  stated  that  Mr. 
Loring  had  no  difficulty  in  finding  it.  It  is  at  the  place 
called  King's  Rocks"  in  Warren,  near  the  Swansea  line 
about  two  miles  from  the  village.  On  the  west  side  of  the 
mass  of  rocks  is  a  nearly  level  smooth  surface  of  rock  about 
twenty-five  feet  by  eight  feet  in  width.  In  this  level  place 
are  three  regular,  narrow,  straight  depressions.  They  appear 
evidently  to  have  been  worn  into  the  rock  by  some  forcible 
attrition,  and  are,  in  fact,  just  such  hollows  as  might  be  made 
by  the  cause  assigned. 

"These  worn  places  have  heretofore  attracted  notice  and 
speculation,  but  the  true  cause  of  their  existence  has  not 
before  been  known  by  late  generations,  and  the  idea  of  a 
national  grinding  mill,  or  of  pulverizing  corn  by  a  rolling  stone 
in  connection  with  Indian  history  will  probably  be  new  to 
every  one. 

"As  confirmatory  of  the  locality,  Mr.  Loring  says  the  pic- 
ture has  upon  it  another  hill  of  somewhat  peculiar  appearance 
(a  large  rock  upon  the  summit)  situated  about  a  mile  east 
of  the  grinding  place,  named,  he  thinks  Wigwam  Hill.* 
Leading  from  this  hill  towards  the  setting  sun  are  two  hun- 
dred and  forty  human  steps,  the  line  of  steps  terminating 
in  three  skulls  which  denotes  a  burial  place.  Mr.  Loring 
visited  the  hill  (now  called  Margaret's  Hill  from  the  last 
Indian  woman  who  resided  there)  and  pacing  off  240  steps 

*  This  hill  is  on  the  farm  of  Mr.  Edward  Mason,  Birch  Swamp  Road, 
Warren. 


38  Massasoit's    Town 

west  came  to  an  Indian  cemetery,  which  he  verified  by  dig- 
ging, and  finding  human  remains. 

Mr.  Francis  Loring,  known  also  by  the  name  "  Big 
Thunder"  is  now  living,  at  an  advanced  age,  on  Indian  Old 
Town  Island,  Maine,  and  is  the  custodian  of  the  Penobscot 
tribe.  The  writer  recently  learned  from  him  that  the  "ancient 
book  made  of  skins"  alluded  to  by  General  Fessenden  was,  a 
few  years  ago,  accidentally  destroyed  by  fire. 

The  Penobscot  language  contains  several  words  which  are 
undoubtedly  of  Wampanoag  or  Narragansett  origin.  This 
tribe  regard  Warren,  R.  I.,  as  the  former  home  of  Massasoit. 
They  translate  the  word  Sowams,  "Place  of  the  Setting  Sun." 

Wannamoisett.  The  northern  part  of  Barrington  extend- 
ing into  Seekonk,  and  including  Bullock's  Point  and  River- 
side. It  was  purchased  of  the  Indians  by  John  Brown,  1645. 
Became  a  part  of  Swansea,  1668. 

Chachacust.  The  neck  of  land  lying  between  Barrington 
and  Warren,  or  Palmer's  Rivers.  Called  by  the  English,  New 
Meadow  Neck,  or  the  New  Meadows.  Under  the  date 
December  7,  1647,  the  "New  Meadows "  are  referred  to,  in  the 
Plymouth  Records,  as  being  "on  the  west  side  of  Sowams 
River"  which  proves  that  Sowams  River  and  Warren  River 
are  identical.  King  Philip  claimed  that  a  portion  of  Chachacust 
was  not  included  in  the  sale  of  "Sowams  and  Parts 
Adjacent,"  and  the  English  purchased  his  right  in  1668. 

Popanomscut.  The  southerly  section  of  Barrington.  It 
was  called  by  the  English  "Phebe's  Neck,"  and  appears  to 
have  been  the  abode  of  Pebee,  or  Thebe,  a  petty  Wampanoag 
sachem,  and  one  of  Philip's  counsellors.  Thebe  was  killed 
by  the  English  July  2,  1675.  At  the  close  of  Philip's  war 
Plymouth  Colony  claimed  Popanomscut  as  "conquered 
land,"  but  the  Sowams'  proprietors  succeeded  in  establishing 
their  right  to  the  tract  under  the  provisions  of  the  "Grand 
Deed  of  Saile"  of  "Sowams  and  Parts  Adjacent." 


Sowams    in    Pokanoket  39 

In  Roger  Williams'  "Key"  occurs  the  word  "paponaum- 
suog"  which  is  thus  denned:  "A  winter  fish  which  comes 
up  in  the  brooks  and  rivulets ;  some  call  them  frost  fish  from 
their  coming  up  from  the  sea  into  fresh  brooks  in  time  of 
frost  and  snow."  Every  one  familar  with  Warren  River 
is  aware  of  the  fact  that,  with  the  arrival  of  cold  weather, 
great  quantities  of  frost  fish  appear  in  its  waters,  swarming 
close  to  both  the  Barrington  and  Warren  6hores.  The 
similarity  of  the  two  words  "  Popanomscut "  and  "paponaum- 
suog"  suggests  the  question:  May  not  the  former  word  have 
been  derived  from  the  latter,  and  may  not  its  meaning  be 
"place  of  frost  fish"  or  something  of  similar  signification? 

Popanomscut  was  laid  out  and  divided  among  the  pro- 
prietors between  1676  and  1680. 

Chachapacaset.  Rumstick  Neck  in  Barrington.  The 
name  Rumstick  was  applied  to  the  neck  in  1697,  and  at  first 
only  to  a  locality  as  "Rumstick  on  Chachapacaset."  Some 
authorities  believe  the  word  Rumstick  to  be  of  Norse  origin. 

Nayatt.     The  south-west  point  of  Barrington. 

Moscachuck  Creek.  It  runs  from  the  brickyard  at 
Nayatt  into  Narragansett  Bay. 

Annawomscott.  That  section  of  Barrington  now  known 
as  Drownville. 

Scamscammuck  Spring.  Located  at  the  upper  end  of 
Chachapacasset. 

Mosskituash  Creek.  This  flows  into  Bullock's  Cove  at 
Riverside. 

Poppasquash  Neck.  Poppasquash,  though  originally  used 
to  indicate  the  entire  western  part  of  Bristol,  is  now  only 
applied  to  a  small  peninsula  surrounded  by  the  waters  of 
Bristol  harbor  on  the  east  and  Narragansett  Bay  on  the 
west. 

The  "  Miery  Swamp."  The  swamp  at  Mount  Hope  where 
King  Philip  was  slain  August  12,  1676. 


40  Massasoit's    Town 

"King  Philip's  Chair."  A  niche  in  the  eastern  side  of 
Mount  Hope  in  which,  according  to  tradition,  King  Philip 
was  accustomed  to  sit  for  the  purpose  of  reviewing  his  war- 
riors, practicing  target  shooting,  etc.  Near  the  "chair"  is  a 
spring  of  pure  water. 

The  Grand  Deed  of  Saile  of  Lands  from  Osamequin  and 
Wamsetto  his  son,  dated  29th  March,  1653. 

To  All  People  to  whome  these  presents  shall  come,  Osama- 
quin  and  Wamsetto  his  Eldest  Sone  Sendeth  greeting. 
Know  Yee,  that  wee  the  said  Osamequin  &  Wamsetto,  for 
&  in  consideration  of  thirty-five  pounds  sterling  to  us  the 
said  Osamequin  and  Wamsetto  in  hand  payd  By  Thomas 
Prince  Gent:  Thomas  Willett  Gent:  Miles  Standish,  Gent: 
Josiah  Winslow,  Gent:  for  And  in  the  behalfe  of  themselues 
and  divers  others  of  the  Inhabitants  of  Plimouth  Jurisdic- 
tion, whose  names  are  hereafter  specified,  with  which  said 
summe  we  the  said  Osamequin  and  Wamsetto  doe  Acknowl- 
edge ourselues  fully  satisfyed  contented  and  payd,  Haue 
freely  and  absolutely  bargained  and  Sold  Enfeoffed  and  Con- 
firmed and  by  these  presents  Doe  Bargaine  Sell  Enfeoffe 
and  Confirme  from  us  the  said  Osamequin  and  Wamsetto, 
and  our  and  Every  of  our  haiers  unto  Thomas  Prince,  Thomas 
Willett,  Miles  Standish,  Josia  Winslow,  Agents  for  themselves 
and  William  Bradford,  Senr,  Gent:  Thomas  Clark,  John 
Winslow,  Thomas  Cushman,  William  White,  John  Adams 
and  Experience  Mitchell,  to  them  and  Every  of  them,  their 
and  Every  of  their  haiers  and  assigns  forever; — 

All  those  Severall  parcells  and  Necks  of  Vpland,  Swamps  and 
Meadows  Lyeing  and  being  on  the  South  Syde  of  Sinkunch  Els 
Rehoboth,  Bounds  and  and  is  bounded  from  a  Little  Brooke  of 
water,  called  by  the  Indjans  Mosskituash  Westerly,  and  so 
Ranging  by  a  dead  Swamp,  Estward,  and  so  by  markt  trees 
as  Osamequin  and  Wamsetto  directed  unto  the  great  River 
with  all  the  Meadow  in  and  about  ye  Sydes  of  bothe  the 


Sowams    in    Pokanoket  41 

Branches  of  the  great  River  wth  all  the  Creeks  and  Brookes 
that  are  in  or  upon  any  of  the  said  meadows,  as  also  all  the 
marsh  meadow  Lying  and  Being  wth  out  the  Bounds  before 
mentioned  in  or  about  the  neck  Called  by  the  Indians  Chacha- 
cust,  Also  all  the  meadow  of  any  kind  Lying  and  being  in  or 
about  Popasquash  neck  as  also  all  the  meadow  Lyeing  from 
Kickomuet  on  both  sides  or  any  way  Joyning  to  it  on  the 
bay  on  Each  Side. 

To  Haue  And  To  Hold  all  the  aforesaid  vpland  Swamp 
Marshes  Creeks  and  Rivers  withe  all  their  appurtinances 
unto  the  aforesaid  Thomas  Prince,  Thomas  Willett,  Miles 
Standish,  Josia  Winslow  and  the  rest  of  the  partners  aforesaid 
to  theme,  And  Every  of  them  their  and  Every  of  their  haiers 
Executors  And  assignes  for  Ever  And  the  said  Osamequin  and 
Wamsetto  his  Sone  Covenant  promise  and  grant,  that  when- 
soeuer  the  Indians  Shall  Remoue  from  the  Neck  that  then 
and  from  thence  forth  the  aforesaid  Thomas  Prince,  Thomas 
Willet,  Miles  Standish,  Josiah  Winslow  shall  enter  vpon  the 
Same  by  the  Same  Agreement  as  their  Proper  Rights  And 
Interests  to  them  and  their  heirs  for  Ever.  To  and  for  the 
true  perforemance  of  all  and  Every  one  of  the  aforesaid  severall 
Perticulars  wee  the  said  Osamequin,  and  Wamsetto  Bind 
us  and  every  of  us  our  and  every  of  our  heirs  Executors 
Administrators  and  Assignes  ffirmly  by  these  presents. 

In  Witness  whereof  wee  haue  hereunto  sett  our  hands  and 
Seales  this  twentieth  day  of  March,  anno  Domini,  1653. 
The  marke  of 

Osamequin,  &  a   (Seale). 

Wamsetto,  W.  &  (Seale). 

Signed  Sealed  and  Delivered 
in  ye  Presence  of  us 
John  Browne 
James  Browne 
Richard  Garrett. 


42  Massasoit's    Town 

Timothy  Brooks 

Timothy  Brooks  was  the  son  of  Henry  and  Susan  Brooks 
of  Woburn,  Mass.  He  married  (1st),  1659,  December  2, 
Mary,  daughter  of  John  Russell.  She  died  at  Woburn,  1680. 
He  married  (2d),  1680,  Mehitable,  daughter  of  Roger  and 
Mary  Mowry,  and  widow  of  Eldad  Kingsley  of  Swansea. 
Timothy  Brooks  had  several  children  of  some  of  whom  we 
find  record  as  follows : 

Timothy,  born,  1661,  October  9.  Married,  1685,  November 
10,  Hannah,  daughter  of  Obadiah  and  Abigail  (Bullock) 
Bowen.  He  was  a  Baptist  minister.  Removed  from  Swansea, 
Mass.,  to  Cohansey,  N.  Y. 

John,  born  about  1662.  Married  (1st)  Martha,  daughter  of 
Hugh  and  Mary  (Foxwell)  Cole  (b.  1662,  April  16;  d.  1711); 
married  (2d)  Tabitha  Wright  of  New  York.  She  died,  1714, 
November  19,  aged  30  years.  He  died,  1714,  November  22, 
aged  52  years. 

Mary,  married  Samuel,  son  of  William  and  Susannah 
Salisbury  (b.  1666,  May  17),  and  died ).  Samuel  Salis- 
bury married  (2d)  Jemima  Martin. 

Elizabeth,  married,  1689,  April  10,  Thomas  Lewis. 

Hepsibath,  born,  1673.  Married,  1694,  May  22.  Pelatiah, 
son  of  Sampson  and  Mary  (Butterworth)  Mason,  (b.  1669, 
April  1),  and  died,  1727,  August  24.  He  married  a  second, 
third,  and  fourth  wife  and  died,  1763,  March  29. 

Rebecca,  married,  1696,  November  6,  Melatiah,  son  of 
John  and  Joanna  (Esten)  Martin.  He  was  born,  1673, 
April  30,  and  died,  1761,  January  30. 

Abigail,  married  Levi  Preston. 

Josiah  born,  Swansea,  Mass.,  1681.    Removed  to  New  York. 

Timothy  Brooks  resided  at  different  periods,  at  Woburn, 
Bedford  and  Swansea,  Mass.  During  King  Philip's  war,  his 
family  were  protected   at  "Garrison   No.  10"    at   Bedford, 


Sowams     in     Pokanoket  43 

which  stood  near  his  residence,  now  known  as  the  "Old  Page 
House."  After  the  death  of  his  first  wife,  1680,  he  removed 
to  Swansea.  He  was  "admitted  into  ye  second  Ranke" 
at  Swansea  1680,  November  12.  Freeman,  1681.  Granted 
liberty  "to  set  up  a  Saw  Mill  on  Mattapoisett  River  at  the 
upper  falls  and  four  acres  of  Land  to  accommodate  the  same 
adjoining,"  1681,  November  11.  One  of  "the  Grand  En- 
quest,"  1682,  June  6.  Granted  liberty  to  "keep  Entertainment 
for  Travellers"  1684,  January  1.  Commissioned  Lieutenant 
of  the  Swansea  Company,  1686,  June  4.  Promoted  to  be 
Captain  of  the  Company,  1690,  May  20. 

Timothy  Brooks  resided  in  that  part  of  Swansea  now 
Warren,  and,  in  1690,  was  one  of  the  fence  viewers  appointed 
for  Kickemuit  district.  His  hostelry  was  the  first  ever  opened 
within  the  limits  of  Warren.  Judging  by  deeds  recorded  at 
Swansea  and  Warren,  it  was  located  on  the  east  side  of  Bel- 
cher's Cove  on  the  Swansea  Road.  His  estate  consisted  of  a 
house,  barn,  and  out-buildings  and  110  acres  of  land,  which 
he  sold  to  John  Barney  of  Bristol,  May  15,  1702. 


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